The dispute involving the collection of solidarity payments for Redmond, Washington-based youth club Crossfire Premier is one step closer to being heard by FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber.
Crossfire Premier is attempting to collect solidarity payments it feels it is owed from the transfer of one of its former players, DeAndre Yedlin, when he moved from the Seattle Sounders to English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in August 2014.
The Chicago Sockers and the Dallas Texans also have cases pending before FIFA's DRC as it relates to transfers involving Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, respectively. Citing U.S. law, the U.S. Soccer Federation has long forbidden U.S. youth clubs from collecting these fees.
According to Lance Reich, who is representing Crossfire Premier in the dispute, the Yedlin case has now been put on the DRC's docket, with a decision expected to be made in the next few months. The next step is for the DRC to assign three judges to hear the case.
The case has been dragging on since the summer of 2015 when the complaint was first filed with FIFA. Reich said he's hopeful that the case will be adjudicated very soon.
"We look forward to a decision promptly from the DRC," he said.
FIFA rules stipulate that when a player signs his first professional contract, the pro club is obligated to pay training and development costs to every club that developed that player between the ages of 12 and 21.
Additionally, when a player transfers to a club in another country before the expiration of his contract -- as Yedlin did when he moved to Tottenham -- five percent of the transfer fee is to be allocated to the club or clubs that developed the player with what is called a solidarity payment. This is spelled out in Articles 20 and 21 in FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), as well as Annexe 4 of that document.
Tottenham reportedly paid Seattle a fee of $3.71 million for Yedlin, meaning his youth clubs, including Crossfire Premier, would split around $185,000.
The concern that the U.S. Soccer has is that implementing RSTP in the U.S. could result in a restraint of trade and thus violate U.S. anti-trust law.
An additional wrinkle involves the case Fraser vs. MLS, that challenged the league's single-entity structure, but also involved the payment of transfer fees for out-of-contract players. MLS stated it wasn't requiring a fee for such players anyway, and promised not to do so in the future.
More critically, U.S. Soccer went one step further and entered into an agreement with the court -- a copy of which has been obtained by ESPN FC -- that also said it wouldn't enforce out-of-contract transfer fees, and included training and development compensation in that definition.
U.S. Soccer ultimately interpreted that agreement to mean that it couldn't require the payment of training compensation and solidarity payments under any circumstances. The case before FIFA's DRC is attempting to override that interpretation.